In an apparent reaction to the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision striking their draconian buffer zone law, the Massachusetts legislature passed a new bill to recreate buffer zones and thereby restrict the free speech of pro-life advocates. “Pro-abortion forces in Massachusetts have responded quickly to exploit assumed loopholes in the McCullen decision,” comments Dana Cody, President and Executive Director of Life Legal Defense Foundation. “The legislature’s actions have demonstrated once again their dedication to suppressing pro-life speech.”
The new law, originally sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler, incorporates aspects of existing law, including the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. However, it goes farther by allowing police to issue dispersal orders. Once a dispersal order is issued, dispersed protestors will be banned from coming within 25 feet of the clinic for eight hours or until the clinic closes. Violators will be subject to possible civil and criminal liability.
For more analysis of the McCullen case and its impact on free speech rights for pro-life advocates, see http://lldf.org/give-and-take/.